The Brazilian mining company Vale has concluded a partnership with the Zurich-based startup ANYbotics. According to a press release, this means that ANYbotics’s four-legged robot will take over dangerous inspection work from humans. The aim is to heighten safety for workers and to increase efficiency.
First, the robot called ANYmal will be used at the mine and processing plant Cauê in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. It will start with a tour to study the environment and create a 3D map. During this, it will also be taught where to go and what to inspect. ANYmal is then able to perform its tasks independently when the Vale team sends it to the plant.
The first tests with ANYmal will be conducted on the first floor, where it will for example collect thermal images and audio samples to analyze the temperature and proper functioning of machine belts. Later, the robot should also take on tasks underground.
ANYbotics, a spinoff from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH), developed ANYmal precisely for such dangerous inspection work. In addition to being equipped with high-precision sensors and cameras, the robot benefits from the use of its legs. Unlike wheel-based robot platforms, it can use these to traverse steps, slopes, and uneven terrain. Furthermore, ANYmal is waterproof and dustproof.
The robot has already been tested by the German chemicals company BASF, among others. It has also worked on Zurich’s underground.